Where Do I Sign Up? Oh, Wait, Those People Will Be There?

Reason's video does make it sound enticing through: D.C.'s Premier Elder Care Community,

A mangled version of that thing Groucho probably said: I wouldn't want to live in any elder care community that would have people like that as members.

Also of note:

  • Just impeach him. The presidential oath of office is short, and a good chunk of it involves swearing that you will, to the best of your ability, "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." That would preclude, I'm pretty sure, browbeating companies to silence voices expressing First Amendment-protected views. Nevertheless, the Biden White House Pressured Facebook To Censor COVID-19 Lab Leak Posts.

    President Joe Biden's White House pushed Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, to censor contrarian COVID-19 content, including speculation about the virus having escaped from a lab, vaccine skepticism, and even jokes.

    "Can someone quickly remind me why we were removing—rather than demoting/labeling—claims that Covid is man made," asked Nick Clegg, president for global affairs at the company, in a July 2021 email to his coworkers.

    A content moderator replied, "We were under pressure from the administration and others to do more. We shouldn't have done it."

    I see two possible Biden impeachment defenses:

    1. "The oath says "to the best of my ability". Do I look like I'm able to preserve, protect, or defend anything?"
    2. "You know, Kamala would be much worse."
  • Oh, c'mon. You want us to be for the entire First Amandment? What is, For Matt Taibbi, The Most Embarrassing "Facebook Files" Revelation? The Press, Exposed as Censors.

    The most embarrassing revelation of the “Facebook Files” released by House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan yesterday (described in more detail here) involves the news media:

    In one damning email, an unnamed Facebook executive wrote to Mark Zuckerberg and Cheryl Sandberg:

    We are facing continued pressure from external stakeholders, including the White House and the press, to remove more Covid-19 vaccine discouraging content.

    We see repeatedly in internal communications not only in the email above, but in the Twitter Files, in the exhibits of the Missouri v Biden lawsuit, and even in the Freedom of Information request results beginning to trickle in here at Racket, that the news media has for some time been working in concert with civil society organizations, government, and tech platforms, as part of the censorship apparatus.

    Why does that one line from the Cops theme song come to mind?

    "Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do, when they come for you?"

  • "Unprecedented" ≠ "Unexpected" Hey kids, remember that Nashville shooter's manifesto? A lot of people are hoping you won't. Jazz Shaw points out: Suppressing the Nashville shooter's manifesto would be "unprecedented"

    It has now been more than four months since trangender mass shooter Audrey Hale murdered six people at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee. All the funerals are over and life is slowly returning to normal in the community. And yet the public has still not seen the shooter’s manifesto or the other documents police collected in the aftermath of the attack. Initially, it was the police and the FBI that appeared to be holding up the release, but now the situation has been shifted to the courts. In a bizarre turn of events, the families of both the shooter and the victims have teamed up with the school and are fighting to prevent the documents from being released. A coalition of elected officials and a local newspaper have sued to have the material made public. But one open government and transparency analyst told the New York Post that the legal theory being pursued to keep the papers secret is flawed and a court decision in their favor would be “unprecedented.”

    I assume it's more convincing that the Unabomber's manifesto. That's gotta be it, right?

  • Reminder: You are only reading this thanks to a very long series of very unlikely accidents. WIRED has the story: How a Microbial Evolutionary Accident Changed Earth's Atmosphere

    A dense rainforest or other verdant terrestrial vegetation may be what first comes to mind at the mention of photosynthesis. Yet the clouds of phytoplankton that fill the oceans are the major drivers of that process in nature. The plantlike single-celled aquatic microbes generate more than 50 percent of the oxygen in the atmosphere, and they absorb nearly half of the carbon dioxide, converting it into the glucose, fats, proteins and other organic molecules that nourish the food web of the oceans.

    A recently published study in Current Biology finally pins down the source of this unparalleled photosynthetic efficiency, which has long baffled scientists. The new research found that some phytoplankton are equipped with an extra internal membrane that carries a “proton pump” enzyme that supercharges their ability to convert carbon dioxide into other substances. The enhancements due to this one protein modification seem to contribute to the production of nearly 12 percent of the oxygen in the air and as much as 25 percent of all the carbon “fixed” (locked into organic compounds) in the ocean.

    I have no idea whether this "accident" was in addition to the host of other accidents ArsTechnica reported back in May: The complicated history of how the Earth’s atmosphere became breathable, which noted the confluence of "biology, geology, and chemistry" in that process.

    At a certain point, you'd think even the most secular scientists might be tempted to throw up their opposable-thumb hands and say, "Well, I guess it was God after all."

Recently on the book blog:

Recently on the movie blog:

[Google Drive Img]

Last Modified 2024-01-30 5:47 AM EDT

The Last Thing He Told Me

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)

Poor Hannah! She's happily married to Owen, and her biggest problem is a rocky relationship with her husband's bratty teenage daughter, Bailey. Hannah's a "woodturner", making a decent living thanks to her prowess with lathes. They all live on a houseboat in Sausalito. And then it all turns quickly to shit, when the software company Owen writes code for gets revealed to have seriously misled investors about its revolutionary upcoming product, which turns out to be vaporware. (Think Theranos, except the CEO with a reality distortion field is a guy.)

Owen vanishes, leaving only an enigmatic two-word message for Hannah: "Protect her." Oh, and a duffel bag full of wads of cash. Could those wads be ill-gotten? And soon it's revealed that the man she knew as Owen had a biography that was pretty nearly completely made up. Hannah must navigate between the competing demands of FBI agents investigating the company and an obviously-knows-more-than-he's-telling US Marshal (who could have been, but wasn't, played by Timothy Olyphant in the miniseries).

The only clues about Owen's past life are from Bailey, who has dim memories of Austin Texas. Hannah and Bailey take off to Austin where they turn out to be a pretty good detective team. Although their investigation seems like it might imperil Owen's request about protecting Bailey.

Now, this is definitely a chick book. (A "Reese's Book Club" emblem on the cover.) (That's Reese Witherspoon.) But it was a definite page-turner for me. The only irritation was Hannah's narration; she keeps babbling her inner monologue, telling rather than showing her inner fears and conflicts. I found myself fast-forwarding over those passages.

Last Modified 2024-01-12 6:06 AM EDT


[4 stars] [IMDB Link]

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)

Pun Son and I went to see Oppenheimer on a (relatively) small screen in Barrington, NH. No IMAX experience for us!

Not that it matters but: we went out to dinner beforehand at a very good Italian restaurant across the highway from the theater. A young couple came in while we were eating; I couldn't help but notice the guy was dressed in neon pink, and the shirt he was wearing was open down approximately to his navel. Huh, what's the deal there?

Once we got to the theater, where Barbie was also playing, all became clear. People are dressing up to go see Barbie, even in little Barrington!

On to the Oppy movie: it's a biopic, wonderfully acted, impressively shot through with amazing effects. But it has some of the little irritations of biopics, notably dialog used to convey biography. ("I'm off to Germany to study quantum mechanics with Heisenberg, because nobody in America knows it well.")

One of the main plot drivers of the movie was Oppy's leftist flirtations and resulting security concerns. Although the screenplay doesn't portray him as a simple martyr to the "red scare", it comes pretty close. And Robert Downey Jr's character, Lewis Strauss, is portrayed as a manipulative villain. Neal B. Freeman strongly objects to that history. And David Harsanyi claims "Yes, It's Reasonable To Wonder If Oppenheimer Was A Soviet Spy."

I'm a Richard Feynman fanboy, and he has a very very minor role here. (Bongo-playing, watching the Trinity test behind a glass windshield.) But I've seen contemporary pictures of him, and the actor they got to play him, Jack Quaid, is a dead ringer.

I had a difficult time understanding some of the dialog. I'm not sure where the problem resided: the lousy sound quality of the movie itself, the theater's lousy audio system, or the lousiness of my elderly ears. A Google search says it might not be just me.

Last Modified 2024-01-30 5:47 AM EDT